Organize what needs to be done into three areas: getting your pet ready, getting your house ready, and creating a guidebook. Getting everything accomplished should take no more than two or three hours.
Have fun with it! Get your timer ready, have a notepad and pen handy, and get it done!
Get Your Pet Ready
Set your timer for 15 minutes—this step shouldn’t take long. Put on some fun music and start gathering all of your pet’s supplies!
The goal is to have everything your sitter might need for your pet all in one spot. You’ll want to collect food, treats, medicines, collars, harnesses, leashes, toys, and anything else your pet needs or loves (like a shirt that smells like you). For any items that you can’t place in the pile yet, write it on a piece of paper and add it to the pile; before you leave, review the pile, and swap the real things for your notes.
Double check that you have enough of any consumable items. Do you have enough food, treats, medicine, litter, etc. for the duration of your trip? If not, add it to your to-do list. If you can’t get more of something before you go, leave money and instructions for the sitter to purchase it.
If you’ve been procrastinating on pet maintenance like nail trims, vet visits, etc., make an appointment and get it out of the way before you leave. It won’t be on your mind while you’re away, and it won’t cause any problems for your sitter.
Get Your House Ready
Each of us has a technique for getting ready for an overnight guest. Maybe you dash and stash; that is, dash around the house, throwing things in a bag, and then stash the bag in a closet. Or, perhaps you do the minimum and simply make sure there’s enough toilet paper and soap.
For your house sitter, you’ll want to make the house welcoming and safe. Here are some ideas to get your started:
- Choose where the sitter will sleep. Put out a pillow, clean sheets, and pillow case.
- Which bathroom will they use? Clean it, stock it, and provide fresh towels.
- Notify neighbors and close friends that someone is staying at your house. Share phone numbers in case of emergencies.
- Arrange access. Get passwords and pass cards for the sitter.
If you have kids who want to help, give them a laundry basket to collect their toys, trinkets, and shoes from areas where the sitter will be spending time. They could also draw a picture as a welcome present.
And speaking of presents, to make the sitter feel appreciated, why not do something special? Ideas include:
- Snacks and chocolate in a basket
- Gift card to a local grocery store or coffee shop
- Container full of trial-size products in the bathroom
If there is a room the sitter won’t be using, just shut the door—no elaborate cleanup necessary! Remember, your home does not have to be perfect. Set your timer and keep moving!
Create a House Sitter Guidebook or Pet Primer
Compiling information about your pet and home in a binder or folder is a terrific way to help ensure a successful housesitting experience. It also becomes a useful resource for your household in general.
You can put in as much time and creativity as you like. Some people use a three-ring binder, others use a pocket folder, or you can print and staple together your notes. Here’s what to put in your house sitter guidebook (and feel free to add more):
- About Your Pets
Personalities, feeding guidelines, specific instructions about pet care, veterinarian’s contact information
- About the House
When is garbage day, how does the thermostat work, where is the internet router, are there alligators in the pond behind the house?
- About the Area
Who delivers the best pizza, recommended shopping/restaurants nearby, transportation (bus/Uber/Lyft/taxi)
- Contact Information
Phone numbers, neighbors’ names, emergency info
One of the benefits of using a house-sitting platform like TrustedHousesitters.com is their Welcome Guide and dashboard. It lays out all the questions and categories for you, which makes the process more efficient. That said, having your own guidebook is also useful in an emergency unrelated to the trip. What if you need to be in the hospital or away unexpectedly? Someone can step in and take care of your house and pet quickly by following the guidebook.
If you’ve followed along, you are ready for your house sitter! They will appreciate the effort you’ve made as a pet parent, and they will be prepared to provide a successful staycation for your pet!